“Great Is Thy Faithfulness: A Bicentennial History of the Meridian Street Methodist Church” is the latest release from the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) Press.
To mark the church’s bicentennial, authors Andrea Neal and Jason Lantzer examine the buildings, the people and the faith journey of the oldest church in Indianapolis. In doing so, they identify the defining moments of both Methodist and city history against a backdrop of national, social, and political change.
The city’s first church would be known by various names: Western Charge, Indianapolis Station, Wesley Chapel and eventually Meridian Street Methodist Church to reflect its location on Indianapolis’s showcase avenue. It would occupy six different physical locations, stretching from the Indiana Statehouse to Monument Circle to 5500 North Meridian Street. Its purpose, however, would never waver.
Carrying a Bible, a hymn book and a collection of religious tracts in his saddlebag, Reverend William Cravens arrived on horseback to the future state capital to minister to those of the Methodist faith. A small class of believers gathered in Isaac Wilson’s cabin to greet this new circuit rider, who had been assigned by denominational officials to serve the Indianapolis District.
From its log cabin beginnings in 1821 to its prominence as the premiere metropolitan pulpit in the early twentieth century to its position as a neighborhood anchor today, Meridian Street Methodist Church has played a significant role in the life of the city and the wider world. Its members led the Sunday School movement, crusaded against hard spirits, fought in wars for freedom and served with distinction in political office. Its ministers developed reputations as powerful speakers who balanced care for individuals’ personal salvation with concern for the immediate needs of the least of their brethren: the poor, the homeless and the hopeless.
A Featured Title at IHS’s Holiday Author Fair, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness: A Bicentennial History of the Meridian Street Methodist Church” is available through IHS’s Basile History Market.
With more than a century of experience, the Indiana Historical Society Press publishes books — from biographies to academic titles, such as the History of Indiana series, to beautiful coffee table books. The Press also publishes historical fiction for children, youth biographies and family history books. Educator resources are also available for many of the youth titles.
For more information about the IHS Press or specific books, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org.
About the Authors
Andrea Neal is a teacher of English and U.S. History at Saint Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis and a former journalist. Neal is the author of “Pence: The Path to Power” (2018) and Road Trip: A Pocket History of Indiana” (2016). Her great-grandfather, Orien Wesley Fifer, was a well-known Indianapolis pastor at Central Avenue United Methodist Church from 1917 to 1927. Neal grew up at First United Methodist Church of Noblesville but has belonged to Meridian Street UMC for most of her adult life. Her mother and two sons also belong to the church.
Jason Lantzer is assistant director, university honors program, at Butler University in Indianapolis. Lantzer is the author of “Prohibition is Here to Stay: The Reverend Edward S. Shumaker and the Dry Crusade in America” (2009), “Mainline Christianity: The Past and Future of America’s Majority Faith” (2012), and “Rebel Bulldog: The Story of One Family, Two States, and the Civil War” (2017) among other works. He and his wife Erin were married at Meridian Street UMC in 1999, and the church is also where both of their children were baptized.
Title: Great Is Thy Faithfulness: A Bicentennial History of the Meridian Street Methodist Church
Publisher: Indiana Historical Society Press
Size: 9 x 11
Publication Date: December 2020